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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Young leaders win support for mental health campaign

Young people from schools, faith and community groups across North East Wales have created a resource and award for secondary schools to improve mental wellbeing in their school communities.

Young leaders from TCC (Trefnu Cymunedol Cymru/Together Creating Communities) met with Karen Evans, Chief Officer for Education & Early Intervention at Wrexham County Borough Council, who supported the Healthy Minds Haven resource and award and agreed to encourage local schools to use it.

TCC brings together local groups so they can take action on issues and improve their communities. TCC’s Youth in Action group, with support and training from the charity, explores issues affecting young people and their communities. 

The group has been campaigning to improve mental health support in schools across North Wales because they passionately believe that school plays a vital role in supporting students, given half of lifetime mental health problems start by the age of 14.

In a survey carried out by TCC leaders from Hawarden High School, 92% of the school community felt more should be done to support young people around mental health. Healthy Minds Haven is unique as it has been designed by young people who are experts by experience, as a resource and checklist of practical things schools can do to improve mental health support for their students.

Schools can work towards achieving the Healthy Minds Haven Award by completing all of the actions if they wish, or they can use the checklist as a resource and still benefit from time invested in creating a learning community that feels positive and confident around the subject of mental health.

In January the young leaders held an online meeting with Karen Evans, gaining her support for the campaign and commitment to sharing the Healthy Minds Haven resource with schools in the area. 

The Chief Officer also agreed to share the toolkit with local authority counterparts in Flintshire and Denbighshire County Councils and to take forward a request for the resource to be added to the Hwb resource platform for schools in North Wales.

Secondary schools are invited to sign up and show their commitment to improving mental health. The group chose to focus on schools as the environment that most young people spend time in, and where the issue of mental health difficulties seems to be on the rise. 

Schools will benefit and learn from lived experience of school pupils in their area. A 2020 Barnardo’s report said 85% of school staff worried that lockdown has affected pupils’ mental health and over 70% called for additional staff training.

Schools are invited to register for Healthy Minds Haven and use the checklist which they can download at Any schools interested in finding out more can also get in touch by contacting

Saturday, January 30, 2021

The snow is back as forecast in Llan

* The view towards the castle from the town.

As forecast, snow began to fall in Llangollen and across Denbighshire at around 8.30am this morning (Saturday).

Such was the intensity of the fall that the view of the castle was obscured and it was easier to see spire the tower of St Collen's Church.

A mixture of snow and rain is due to continue for the rest of the day.

* The tower of St Collen's under heavy snowfall. 

GPs urge people not to delay seeking support during lockdown

* Giving Covid jabs is just part of the service provided by GPs.

Doctors in North Wales are urging people to not delay seeking support if they are worried about their health during the latest COVID-19 lockdown.

The plea is being made after some GPs reported a drop in the number of people with health concerns contacting them for consultations during the latest lockdown, leading to fears that the opportunity for successful early treatment could be lost.

Despite the stay-at-home restrictions and GP involvement in the national COVID-19 vaccination rollout, GP appointments continue to be available, with telephone, video and face-to-face consultations offered.

Mold based GP Dr Jim McGuigan, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s East Area Assistant Medical Director, said its vital that people don’t delay seeking advice or support if they have any health concerns. He also appealed for people to be patient when attempting to book appointments.

“We have a clear message for the public that they should continue to contact their GP surgery if they have any concerns about their health,” he said.

“This is particularly important for people who have persisting worrying symptoms. You are not wasting your GP’s time by getting your symptoms checked and contacting us in a timely manner makes it much more likely that you will be offered successful early treatment.

“Telephone, video and face to face appointments are still being offered, where needed, and all GP practices have introduced appropriate infection prevention measures to keep patients and staff safe.

“If you are contacting your GP to make an appointment for any health concerns we ask you to please be patient. Reception staff are working incredibly hard, as they have done throughout the pandemic, and will answer your call and offer you a consultation as soon as one is available.”

All 98 GP surgeries in the region are playing their part in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which is set to ramp up significantly in the coming weeks, as vaccine supplies increase.

People are being invited to vaccination centres and GP practices to receive their vaccine in order of the priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Dr McGuigan says people can help reduce pressures on GP surgeries by not contacting them to try and book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

“Please do not contact your GP practice directly unless you have been contacted and given a vaccination appointment. We won’t be able to offer you the vaccine any sooner, but you may cause delays for people who are trying to book general appointments.”

The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board website contains a range of helpful information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme and how to access appropriate local health services.

* For further information on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in North Wales please visit: COVID-19 Vaccination Information - Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (

For further information on choosing the most appropriate health service for your needs, visit: Where Do I Go? - Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (

For information and resources to help you access support for your mental health and wellbeing, visit BCUHB’s Mental Health Hub: Mental Health Hub - Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (

Welsh Government's coronavirus update

Latest coronavirus update from the Welsh Government (dated yesterday) is: 

Coronavirus in numbers

What to do if you have symptoms of coronavirus

Where to find the latest information

o   The First Minister held today’s press conference. You can watch again at

o   Slides used in today’s press conference are published at:

Friday, January 29, 2021

Health centre's vaccination update

Llangollen Health Centre has posted it's latest vaccination update, which says"

"We're very pleased to say that we have now had the go-ahead from the health board to move on to the next two priority groups - namely patients aged 70 - 79 years and those on the official shielding list - and we have already made a start on these. All our patients who fall into these two groups will be contacted over the next two weeks to arrange an appointment.

"We have now vaccinated the majority of our patients aged 80 and over. Any patients in this age group who have not yet received their vaccine and want to have one can contact us to arrange an appointment.",

Government gives further details of Covid business help


The Welsh Government has revealed further details of the £200m package of support for non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses that continue to be impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest funding is linked to the non-domestic rates system and will operate as a top up to the Restrictions Business Fund which was put in place in early December.

It brings this latest phase of Welsh Government support to £650m and will help businesses with operational costs through to the end of March.

Businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 or under will be eligible to receive a payment of £3,000.

Businesses with a rateable value between £12,001 and £150,000 will be eligible to receive a payment of £5,000.

The Welsh Government is also extending the £5,000 grant through to businesses with a rateable value of up to £500,000.

Supply chain businesses will be able to apply for support if they have had a reduction in turnover of more than 40%.

The combined package provides eligible businesses with an NDR rate of £12,000 or under with a £6,000 grant towards their operating costs, and an eligible business with an NDR rate of between £12,001 and £150,000 with a £10,000 payment.

This does not include, where eligible, businesses who have accessed the ERF Sector Specific Fund which would see a typical hospitality, leisure and tourism business with 10 employees receive up to an additional £15,000 meaning a £25,000 grant in total for the period.

A further £30m is also being made available through the discretionary fund to provide up to £2,000 grants for businesses not on the non-domestic rates system.

Welsh Government support is in addition to that available from the UK Government.

Local authorities, who have been absolutely vital in getting money to businesses quickly, will again be administering and distributing these payments. Businesses that pay non-domestic rates and have already received a payment since the firebreak in October do not need to take action. However, businesses that have not registered with their local authority, should take action now to ensure they receive the financial support they are entitled to.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Welsh Government has ensured that more than £1.7bn of business support has reached the bank accounts of Welsh firms.

This help has been crucial for businesses across Wales throughout the pandemic and has protected tens of thousands of jobs that might otherwise have been lost.

Economy Minister Ken Skates said:

“The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a severe impact on our economy and our businesses, particularly those in the leisure, tourism, hospitality and retail sectors.

“The additional £200m we are making available will provide reassurance to firms across Wales and help them with their operating costs through to the end of March.

“Our support is in addition to that available from the UK Government, including the Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, and I encourage businesses to explore those options as well.

“I am also calling on the UK Government to provide further certainty to businesses and individuals by assuring that support available through interventions such as the Job Retention Scheme will not be withdrawn before the economy is ready.

“Local Authorities have been crucial throughout the pandemic in supporting our efforts by administering and distributing this funding to firms in their area and I would like to once again thank them for their fantastic work and everything they continue to do to help our businesses when they need it most.”

Local Government Minister Julie James also paid tribute to the efforts of local authority staff:

"I know that staff across Wales have worked incredibly hard to make sure support was available to their local businesses as quickly as possible.

“They have done this while continuing to ensure local services are delivered and while playing an essential role in many other responses to the pandemic from test, trace, protect to supporting those self-isolating."

Welsh lockdown to continue for another three weeks

The First Minister will today confirm alert level 4 lockdown restrictions will remain in place in Wales for the next three weeks. 

While the situation in Wales is improving, lockdown restrictions must continue for another three weeks to allow the NHS to recover, says the Welsh Government.

Mark Drakeford will also indicate that the youngest learners in primary school could begin returning to school after the February half term, if rates of coronavirus continue to fall.

The Welsh Government says it will work with schools and education partners on a phased and flexible return to school after 22 February, if the public health situation continues to improve.

Rates of coronavirus across Wales have fallen below 200 cases per 100,000 people for the first time since early November. And every day, thousands more people receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine – the latest figures show almost 11% of the population have been vaccinated.

Scheme aims to help people needing help with digital technology

* Volunteer Digital Buddy Keith Owen.

Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council, Digital Communities Wales and Denbighshire County Council have teamed up to launch a new digital volunteering scheme in the county to help those that need assistance with digital technology. 

The pandemic has highlighted more than ever that digital inclusion is fundamental and without technology it would be extremely difficult to stay connected with family, friends and loved ones in lockdown. 

However, there are still people who are not as confident in using tablets and smartphones, and the aim of this scheme is to reach out to those that feel left behind and help them acquire those invaluable digital skills. 

Technology can be life changing, can make people more independent and boost mental health.

 Denbighshire Digital Buddies have been recruited to offer much needed help over the phone. 

Gareth Jones, of Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council, said: “Communities across Wales and especially in Denbighshire have come together during this pandemic, and our digital buddies scheme aims to tap into that positive energy within our communities to support each other." 

Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire County Council’s Lead for Wellbeing and Independence, said: “This pandemic has brought to light the need for digital assistance more than ever. At the beginning of this pandemic most people were able to learn quickly on how to stay in touch, but for others in our community, they found it extremely difficult. This scheme will hopefully reach those people who need extra help and helped keep our communities connected." 

“The council felt it was essential for us to support this scheme, as it is a positive step forward to helping those in need”. 

Deian ap Rhisiart of Digital Communities Wales said: “We have been working in the field of digital inclusion for nearly a decade across Wales, and this is a timely response to tackle the digital skills gap. People need to be able to stay connected, to be able to use digital services, sustain their mental health in lockdown, and technology is an integral part of the solution." 

Digital Buddies will begin to assist people over the phone next month. 

Volunteer Keith Jones said: "There is a danger of some people in society being left behind. This has become more evident during the pandemic. I would like to use my skillset to assist. 

If you have or know of a relative or friend that has received a tablet or smartphone for Christmas and require help how to use it, the scheme would like to hear from you and they can be paired up with a Digital Buddy.

* Contact Gareth Jones on 01824 702441 for further information or e-mail

Coronavirus update from the Welsh Government


Latest coronavirus update from the Welsh Government (dated yesterday) is:

Coronavirus in numbers

What to do if you have symptoms of coronavirus

Where to find the latest information

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Government launches scheme for homeless youngsters

The Welsh Government has launched a campaign urging young people who are at risk of homelessness or already homeless to call a free Housing Advice Helpline run by Shelter Cymru and Llamau. 

Now in its second year, the youth homelessness campaign highlights the problem of hidden homelessness amongst young people – raising awareness of the fact that homelessness doesn’t always live on the streets.

Hidden homelessness most commonly takes the form of ‘sofa surfing’ at the house of friends or family, but can also include staying somewhere temporarily like a hostel or bed & breakfast, or somewhere that’s unsafe or unsuitable. 

This phase of the campaign also focuses on people who may now be at risk of homelessness because of the pandemic; these people may have recently lost their jobs or are on furlough and, as a result, may be struggling to hold onto their homes.

As well as helping these people to recognise that they might be at risk of homelessness or already homeless, the campaign also advises their friends, family and work colleagues on how to spot the signs of hidden homelessness.

Anyone experiencing these issues is being asked to call the free Housing Advice Helpline, which is funded by the Welsh Government and run by Shelter Cymru, with out of hours support from Llamau.

Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James said: “Coronavirus has forced many people to the brink of homelessness. Many young people will be struggling with these kind of issues for the first time; others may have been struggling before the pandemic hit.

“We have to also recognise that homelessness doesn’t always live on the streets and there will be young people who have been sofa surfing with friends or family throughout this pandemic.

“Our message to these young people and those around them is to call the Housing Advice Helpline now. Expert trained advisors from Shelter Cymru and, out of hours, Llamau are on hand to talk you through these issues and advise you on what you can do – it’s never too late or too early to get help.”

Ruth Power, CEO, Shelter Cymru said: ‘Shelter Cymru welcomes this renewed commitment by the Welsh Government to tackle youth homelessness.

“All young people need a home where they can build a life, be safe and thrive, which is why it is so important that anyone who is currently homeless or at risk of homelessness is aware of their rights, and aware that they can come to us for help.”

Preventing youth homelessness is a long-standing priority for the Welsh Government. This is why, in addition to funding this helpline, £3.7m has been provided for earlier intervention and prevention of homelessness via the Youth Support Grant. – The Welsh Government is working with partners in the youth service to help identify young people at risk of homelessness and put suitable support in place.

* For advice and support call the Housing Advice Helpline on 08000 495 495 or visit the Shelter Cymru website by going to

Eisteddfod makes plans for its 2021 festival

* A scene from the 2019 eisteddfod parade through Llangollen. 

Digital options and a hybrid weekend performance are amongst the options being considered by Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod for its 2021 festival.

Due to the pandemic the 2020 eisteddfod was cancelled.

In a statement issued this morning, the festival says: "In light of the ongoing global battle against Coronavirus, we are working on plans to adapt the format of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod for July 2021.

"There continues to be significant uncertainty about the possibility of mass events in Wales in the summer of 2021 and we recognise that the Covid-19 restrictions operating around the world have had a significant impact on the groups of choirs and dancers that would usually attend our event.  

"These circumstances mean that we have decided to suspend the traditional live competition strands for Llangollen 2021, and reimagine our event in a way that can be delivered safely but which will still capture the magic of our international Eisteddfod.

"We are working hard to create a format for Llangollen 2021 involving digital options and a weekend hybrid event featuring artists from the 2020 concert programme including Llanfest. 

"Details will be confirmed in the late Spring when further information about government guidelines is expected and we will have clarity about what can be achieved.

"Further updates will be shared through our website and social media channels."

Coronavirus update from the Welsh Government

Latest Welsh Government coronavirus update (dated yesterday) is: 

Coronavirus in numbers

What to do if you have symptoms of coronavirus

Where to find the latest information

o   Today’s press briefing was held by Chief Medical Officer for Wales Dr Frank Atherton and Dr Rob Orford, the Welsh Government’s chief scientific adviser for health. You can watch again at: